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Tipsheet

San Francisco Police Have a New Method to Neutralize Violent Criminals

Despite being a bastion for progressive politics and soft-on-crime approaches to public safety, San Francisco will allow its police force to add a new, lethal item into their arsenal, combating violent criminals: killer robots. No, it’s nothing like Peter Weller’s character in RoboCop, which would undoubtedly be awesome, but should an armed crazy person hole up in an area where civilian casualties are at a bare minimum, the killer robots could end the standoff without a Negotiator-like ending. The city has been considering the motion to permit law enforcement to use these devices in extreme circumstances—and it passed yesterday. It wasn’t even a close vote—the resolution carried by an 8-3 vote with the city’s board of supervisors (via Associated Press):

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Supervisors in San Francisco voted Tuesday to give city police the ability to use potentially lethal, remote-controlled robots in emergency situations -- following an emotionally charged debate that reflected divisions on the politically liberal board over support for law enforcement.

The vote was 8-3, with the majority agreeing to grant police the option despite strong objections from civil liberties and other police oversight groups. Opponents said the authority would lead to the further militarization of a police force already too aggressive with poor and minority communities.

Supervisor Connie Chan, a member of the committee that forwarded the proposal to the full board, said she understood concerns over use of force but that “according to state law, we are required to approve the use of these equipments. So here we are, and it’s definitely not a easy discussion.”

Critics have warned this could lead to more police violence, an oxymoronic term, but it’s not like these robots will be going around killing people en masse, unlike dregs of society that infest and defecate all over the streets of the city. In 2016, Dallas police used a robot to detonate a bomb near Micah Xavier Johnson, who ambushed and killed five police officers. It’s a worthy addition for police to eliminate these threats.

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